Performance Appraisals

Performance Appraisals for Literacy Volunteers
Performance appraisals for volunteers are important. The Ontario screening initiative recommends that feedback should be given at least once per year, and more frequently in the first year. According to Community Literacy of Ontario's volunteer survey; just 58% of literacy agencies formally assess the performance of their volunteers.

Evaluation can make everyone involved uneasy, but it is a key part of maintaining a healthy volunteer environment. The goal of the appraisal process is to provide information to the volunteer regarding the quality of the work being done, and to the organization regarding potential improvements to their volunteer program. Overall, a volunteer’s confidence in their ability to do their job should be increased as a result of a performance appraisal. If problem areas are identified it is the perfect time to discuss them, make changes, or come up with a plan to provide support and/or additional training. The Ontario Screening Initiative recommends that:

  • Feedback on job performance should occur at least once per year, and probably more frequently in the first year
  • Evaluations should be based on the position description
  • The supervisor should go through the position description point by point and ask for comments from the volunteer, as well as giving their own feedback
  • Clearly state both positive comments and any areas of concern
  • Document the evaluation and have it signed by both the volunteer and the supervisor
  • File the evaluation in a safe and confidential place

In addition to using the job description to review performance, here are some other questions literacy agencies could ask of their volunteers:

  • Do you need more information, resources or training?
  • Are you happy with your current volunteer position?
  • What future goals do you have as a volunteer?
  • What is the best experience you have had while volunteering with us?
  • What changes would you like to see in our volunteer program?
  • How can we further support you as a volunteer?

Performance Appraisals for Boards of Directors of Literacy Agencies
Performance appraisals for boards are usually conducted by self-assessment of individual and group performance and needs. Often, board performance appraisals occur much less often than staff or volunteer appraisals, if at all. However, having the board conduct a self-assessment can be a wonderful tool for increasing board performance AND satisfaction. Boards could consider setting up an annual process where board members individually answer the following questions, then discuss the results in a group format (or just give their individual assessments to the chair if the issues are too difficult to discuss in a group format).

Board members could ask themselves some or all of the following questions:

  • Are board members committed to the literacy agency, its mission and programs?
  • Do board members feel respected and valued by their literacy agency?
  • Do board members understand their roles and responsibilities?
  • Do board members fulfill their responsibilities and provide proper governance and oversight?
  • Do board members receive enough training and information?
  • Are board and committee meetings effective?
  • Is there good attendance at board and committee meetings?
  • Does the board function well, and have mutual respect and teamwork?
  • Is the board representative of the community its serves?
  • Do board members have all of the needed skill sets?
  • What is the best thing about being on this board?
  • What is the greatest area of improvement for this board?
  • What major goal would each board member like to see the board address in the coming year?

CLO’s Board Governance module on Literacy Basics offers additional information and resources on evaluating board performance.